Yatzer has this amazing profile of a renovated church in the city of Utrecht in Holland. Truly spectacular. I am still picking up my jaw off the floor:
In the Netherlands there are hundreds of empty churches which have altered their function and are now given a new program, such is the case with St. Jakobus Church in Utrecht. The church ceremonies and its general operation stopped in 1991; ever since and until 2007 the church was used as a showroom for antique furniture, as well as a meeting place for small concerts.
The mezzanine floor was partially removed so to emphasize the interesting sightlines and allow for abundant natural light to enter to the ground floor. The new detached modern residential volume structure is now regarded as a new ‘temporary’ construction within this historical monument. This volume can be demolished at any given time if the residential church is to change its function. The circulation of the residence flows through the temporary volume and connects the open front with the rear of the church where the church alter once stood. In the back the kitchen is arranged, whereby the kitchen block is standing on its own, and the old church pews have been reused by Zecc Architects to create the dining table. Overall, the volume, as well as the retained fixtures and detailing have allowed for the church features to dominate within the interiors while on the other hand the fact that this church is used as a residence is stated clear.
Zecc modified the church as little as possible; they maintained the existing wooden floor, the stained glass windows and the old doors while they repaired whatever was necessary. The new white floor construction is kept free from the church walls, columns and arches. The sleek stucco volume is constructed from steel, wood and sheet material. Closed parapets guide sightlines and embrace the places of living. Glass surfaces in the volume constantly offer another insight of fragments in the church. Moreover, they reflect historical elements, which creates a fusion of old and new. All in all, Zecc Architects have transformed this historical building into a unique single dwelling; it is important that St. Jakobus Church was not divided into smaller units which would have eventually destroyed the spaciousness as well as the layout. Furthermore, the architectural layout of this residence has been treated in such a manner so that future conversions are possible; under any new circumstance the historical St. Jakobuskerk church can easily be converted into a public building, or even be re-used as a church.